Address to the Mayor and Citizens of Cincinnati, Ohio
Mr. Mayor, Ladies, and Gentlemen: Twenty-four hours ago, at the capital of Indiana, I said to myself I have never seen so many people assembled together in winter weather. I am no longer able to say that. But it is what might reasonably have been expected--that this great city of Cincinnati would thus acquit herself on such an occasion. My friends, I am entirely overwhelmed by the magnificence of the reception which has been given, I will not say to me, but to the President-elect of the United States of America. Most heartily do I thank you, one and all, for it.
I am reminded by the address of your worthy mayor that this reception is given not by any one political party, and even if I had not been so reminded by his Honor I could not have failed to know the fact by the extent of the multitude I see before me now. I could not look upon this vast assemblage without being made aware that all parties were united in this reception. This is as it should be. It is as it should have been if Senator Douglas had been elected. It is as it
116should have been if Mr. Bell had been elected; as it should have been if Mr. Breckinridge had been elected; as it should ever be when any citizen of the United States is constitutionally elected President of the United States. Allow me to say that I think what has occurred here to-day could not have occurred in any other country on the face of the globe, without the influence of the free institutions which we have unceasingly enjoyed for three quarters of a century. There is no country where the people can turn out and enjoy this day precisely as they please, save under the benign influence of the free institutions of our land.
I hope that, although we have some threatening national difficulties now--I hope that while these free institutions shall continue to be in the enjoyment of millions of free people of the United States, we will see repeated every four years what we now witness.
In a few short years I, and every other individual man who is now living, will pass away; I hope that our national difficulties will also pass away, and I hope we shall see in the streets of Cincinnati--good old Cincinnati--for centuries to come, once every four years, her people give such a reception as this to the constitutionally elected President of the whole United States. I hope you shall all join in that reception, and
117that you shall also welcome your brethren from across the river to participate in it. We will welcome them in every State of the Union, no matter where they are from. From away South we shall extend them a cordial good-will, when our present difficulties shall have been forgotten and blown to the winds forever.
I have spoken but once before this in Cincinnati. That was a year previous to the late presidential election. On that occasion, in a playful manner, but with sincere words, I addressed much of what I said to the Kentuckians. I gave my opinion that we as Republicans would ultimately beat them as Democrats, but that they could postpone that result longer by nominating Senator Douglas for the presidency than they could in any other way. They did not, in any true sense of the word, nominate Mr. Douglas, and the result has come certainly as soon as ever I expected. I also told them how I expected they would be treated after they should have been beaten; and I now wish to recall their attention to what I then said upon that subject. I then said, "When we do as we say,--beat you,--you perhaps want to know what we will do with you. I will tell you, so far as I am authorized to speak for the opposition, what we mean to do with you. We mean to treat you, as near as we possibly can,
118as Washington, Jefferson, and Madison treated you. We mean to leave you alone, and in no way to interfere with your institutions; to abide by all and every compromise of the Constitution; and, in a word, coming back to the original proposition, to treat you, so far as degenerate men--if we have degenerated--may, according to the examples of those noble fathers, Washington, Jefferson, and Madison. We mean to remember that you are as good as we; that there is no difference between us other than the difference of circumstances. We mean to recognize and bear in mind always that you have as good hearts in your bosoms as other people, or as we claim to have, and treat you accordingly.
Fellow-citizens of Kentucky!--friends!-- brethren! may I call you in my new position? I see no occasion, and feel no inclination, to retract a word of this. If it shall not be made good, be assured the fault shall not be mine.
And now, fellow-citizens of Ohio, have you, who agree with him who now addresses you in political sentiment--have you ever entertained other sentiments toward our brethren of Kentucky than those I have expressed to you? If not, then why shall we not, as heretofore, be recognized and acknowledged as brethren again, living in peace and harmony again one with another? I take your response as the most reliable